The History of Opel

The German entrepreneur Adam Opel was never involved in car production. And understandably so, because when he opened his own manufactory in Rüsselsheim, the car had not yet been invented. The enterprise, founded by Adam Opel in 1862, was engaged in the production of entirely different machines - sewing machines. Later, he expanded his business by producing bicycles - this happened in 1885, almost at the same time as another German, Karl Benz, was building the world's first car with an internal combustion engine in his workshop. But Benz's invention did not impress Opel, not so much his sons, who continued their father's business after his death in 1895.

Adam Opel's heirs reacted to the idea of producing cars with great enthusiasm and in 1899 set up a joint car-assembly company with car manufacturer Friedrich Lutzmann. However, due to disagreements between the companions, just one year later the production of cars under the Opel-Lutzmann brand was stopped. The search for a new partner brought the family Opel to the French company Automobiles Darracq S.A.: it supplied in Germany chassis with engines, on which the original bodies were installed in Rüsselsheim. And in 1902, the company released the first car of its own design - the model 10/12PS, equipped with a 2-cylinder engine with liquid cooling. The company's lineup is gradually expanding: the Opel cars become larger and more powerful. In 1906, the company celebrated the release of the 1,000th car, and in another six years, Opel will pass the milestone of 10,000 cars. It could achieve this largely due to the success of a relatively inexpensive model 4/8PS, which went into production in 1909.

In 1911, the Opel family got a serious blow - a fire at the plant in Rüsselsheim, which destroyed almost all the equipment. But every cloud has a silver lining: after the repair of the workshops, the latest machines were purchased which made it possible to increase the productivity of labor. Along the way the company gave up the non-core business, which Adam Opel's sons had inherited - production of sewing machines was stopped. Concentrating on the production of cars, already by 1913 Opel became the largest car manufacturer in Germany. But sons of Adam Opel did not stop on the reached: in 1924 they received a credit of one million gold marks and spent this enormous sum for modernization of production facilities. As a result, Opel becomes the first automaker in Germany to introduce an assembly line. Opel's market share in Germany is approaching 40 percent! The company also succeeded in bicycle production, becoming the world leader in this segment by the mid-20s.

The meteoric rise of Opel's business is supported by other achievements. At the Berlin race track, the world's first rocket-powered car, the Opel RAK2, breaks the land speed record: Fritz von Opel achieves an incredible 238 km/h for that time! A year later, Opel takes to the skies: The jet-powered Opel-Sander RAK1 takes off from a field in the suburbs of Frankfurt, marking the first ever manned flight in a rocket-powered aircraft (albeit a very short one). But the Opel family's joy was short-lived. In 1929, the world crisis dealt a serious blow to the company's business, burdened with a large debt burden. The way out in this situation was the sale of the company to General Motors Corporation. Thanks to financial assistance from the U.S. auto giant, the company from Rüsselsheim was able not only to maintain its market position, but also to increase the volume of car production. It was promoted by the fact that Opel was the first automaker in Germany, which founded the insurance company and a bank to finance sales on credit.

In 1935, the company broke its own record, selling more than 100,000 cars in a year. That same year at the Berlin Motor Show Opel presents the Olympia, the first German production car with a composite body made entirely of steel. A year later, the Opel Kadett is launched, laying the foundation for a 75-year success story in the compact class. Opel becomes Europe's largest automaker, producing over 120,000 cars a year, while at the same time the company stops production of bicycles, selling them to NSU. In 1940, Opel marks the release of its millionth car, but at the end of the year, production of passenger cars is stopped: the enterprise is transferred to production of machinery and weapons for the Wehrmacht. Thus, the company signs its own fate: in 1944, during an air raid, the Opel factories in Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg were destroyed. The surviving equipment intended for the production of the Kadett model was dismantled in 1945 and sent to the Soviet Union. Do not forget to use Opel VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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